Accounting | The Profession

CPA earns top honours at Canada’s CFO of the Year gala

Pamela Steer, CFO of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, accepted the award at this year’s annual award ceremony

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CFOY winner: Pamela Steer Pamela Steer said she chose to pursue her CPA designation because she had an affinity for numbers. (Kevin Chung/Kayce Photography)

CPA Pamela Steer was named Canada’s CFO of the Year Award at the annual gala event held at The Ritz Carlton Toronto on April 25.

“It’s an incredible honour,” Steer said in an interview with CPA Canada after her win. “I’m so honoured to be with such a distinguished group of people.”

Steer, FCPA, FCA, has been the CFO at the Workplace Safety And Insurance Board since 2015. She has a Master of Accounting degree from the University of Waterloo and received her CPA designation from CPA Ontario. She also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Business Valuator (CBV) designations.

“[My CPA designation] has been fundamental to allowing me to thrive and grow as a financial professional, and really, it is table stakes to move forward in the financial community,” Steer said. “I am so proud of my designation and to represent CPAs in this way. It’s a wonderful achievement.”

“Congratulations to Pamela on a well-deserved win,” says Joy Thomas, president and CEO, CPA Canada. “The honour is a testament to her leadership, vision and accomplishments but also reinforces the valuable role CFOs play in defining and driving success for organizations.”

Davinder Valeri, Pamela Steer, and Joy Thomas CFO of the Year winner Pamela Steer, centre, with Davinder Valeri, director of strategy, risk and performance at CPA Canada, left, and Joy Thomas, president and CEO of CPA Canada. (Kevin Chung/Kayce Photography)

Steer is the former CFO of Fusenet Inc. and was vice-president of finance at Redknee Solutions Inc. (now known as Optiva Inc.). She is a member of the Canadian Chapter of the Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) CFO Leadership Network, which is run in partnership with CPA Canada, and also sits on its Global Advisory Council.

Along with the award, speaking engagements and a seat on the CFO selection committee the following year, and more, Steer will receive $5,000 to contribute to the charity of her choice.

As a champion for mental health in the workplace, Steer selected CAMH: The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health as her charity of choice. Her leadership on the issue at WSIB contributed to the creation of the organization’s first workplace mental-health policy and mandatory mental-health training for senior leaders.

“Mental health in the workplace has been a really important initiative for me and I think for our country as well,” Steer said.

The two other finalists—also CPAs—honoured at the event were Brad Chapman, CPA, CA, of Centennial College, and Erfan Kazemi, CPA, CA, of Sandstorm Gold Royalties.

Steer said she chose to pursue her CPA designation because she had an affinity for numbers.

“Numbers just came easily to me,” she said, adding: “What I really enjoy is helping build businesses and make them better and being able to steer them through strategy. I just wanted to do something that I could really contribute and make a difference.”

Nominees for the award, now in its 17th year, are selected on the basis of various CFO functions including inspirational leadership, social responsibility, business performance, demonstrating financial accountability, innovation and mentoring and development.

Last year’s winner was CPA Nathalie Bernier from PSP Investments. Other winners have included Air Canada’s Michael Rousseau (2017), Cineplex Inc.’s Gord Nelson (2016) and Canadian Tire Corporation’s Dean McCann (2015). The award is sponsored by FEI Canada, PwC Canada and Robert Half. CPA Canada is a supporting sponsor along with Ricoh Canada Inc. and SAP Canada Inc.